EU in crisis: Purge of EU officials finds fresh target

THE EUROPEAN Commission looks set to be convulsed by a further wave of revelations on corruption and mismanagement and a ruthless purge of the top ranks of its officials.

The five person inquiry team whose damning report helped topple the commissioners on Monday night, is now preparing for the second phase of the probe. Yesterday some members of the committee accused the Commission of "hindering" its work.

The next phase will target the Commission's 24 directorates-general whose 16,000 staff carry out the day-to-day management of tasks and the execution of policies, including the awarding of financial contracts.

There were suggestions in the German press yesterday of a rearguard attempt by the Commission hierarchy to gag the inquiry by refusing to cooperate with the next round. But with heads of government like Tony Blair demanding "root and branch" reform, any refusal to hand over documents would trigger all-out war with the European Parliament .

The inquiry team is reported to have already received hundreds of boxes of additional information which will form part of the second phase.

The prospect of a purge of senior ranking permanent officials is being relished by handpicked aides and political advisers in the Commissioners' "cabinets" or private offices, who themselves were indirectly the target of much of the criticism in the first-phase report. "There is no point in clearing away the commissioners who accept political responsibility if you leave in place the faceless civil servants who were actually lining their pockets and mismanaging things," said one cabinet member yesterday.

Many middle and junior ranking civil servants are also anxious to see a clear-out. "The wise persons' report is only the tip of the iceberg" said one.

Others said they were appalled by the report and expressed solidarity with Paul Van Buitenen, the sacked Commission whistleblower.

Mr Van Buitenen was given a standing ovation when he showed up at a general assembly of EU staff unions on Wednesday.

Among the targets of the new broom would, according to some sources, be powerful behind-the-scenes figures. "Why should these top civil servants get off scot free?" said one insider.

The presidents of political groups in the European Parliament meet on Monday night in Brussels to decide the remit for the second stage of the inquiry, and parliament officials say there will be agreement that it should proceed. "There is definitely a feeling that we need to go down to the next rung of the ladder".

The inquiry team yesterday hit back at commissioners who suggested that parts of the explosive report were deliberately hyped up. Edith Cresson, the disgraced French commissioner, on Wednesday suggested that the conclusions of the report did not tally with the body of the text and had been sharpened up for political effect on Sunday night after she had seen them.

Pierre Lelong, president of the French court of auditors, and one of the inquiry team, flatly denied Ms Cresson's accusation. "The conclusions were not hardened up. The few changes we made were done with the most scrupulous attention to the truth and without pressure from anyone anywhere," he said.

Walter Van Gerven, a judge who formerly sat on the bench of the European Court of Justice, was another of the five wise persons.

He said: "The European Parliament gave us our mandate and I think they are quite happy with the work we did". He added that the most serious problem shown up by the inquiry was that the Commission had taken on too much work.

"The Commission is not made to directly manage hundreds of contracts with tourism promotion associations, for example.

"Likewise to launch a policy of aid to abandoned children in Romania and then to entrust the job to a private company and let it choose the beneficiaries of public money, that is madness."

Andre Middelhoek, a former member of the EU court of auditors, slated the culture of commissioners failing to look beyond their own noses. "Commissioners should look beyond the hedges of their garden and tear out the weeds from the gardens of their neighbours."

The inquiry team was appointed in January after the Commission agreed to co-operate with a probe in a bid to stave off a vote of censure in parliament.

Donald Macintyre, Review, page 3

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
filmDirector said film would 'never have been financed' with ethnic minority actors in key roles
News
people
Sport
footballArsenal 2 Borussia Dortmund 0: And they can still top the group
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
An unseen image of Kurt Cobain at home featured in the film 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck'
film
News
Andy Murray with his girlfriend of nine years, Kim Sears who he has got engaged to
peopleWimbledon champion announces engagement to girlfriend Kim Sears
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie are joining the I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! camp
tv
Arts and Entertainment
George Mpanga has been shortlisted for the Critics’ Choice prize
music
News
Albert Camus (left) and Jean-Paul Sartre fell out in 1952 and did not speak again before Camus’s death
people
Arts and Entertainment
Roisin, James and Sanjay in the boardroom
tvReview: This week's failing project manager had to go
News
Ed Miliband visiting the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. The Labour leader has spoken more openly of his heritage recently
newsAttacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But are the barbs more sinister?
Arts and Entertainment
'Felfie' (2014) by Alison Jackson
photographyNew exhibition shows how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
News
i100
Life and Style
Fright night: the board game dates back to at least 1890
life
Environment
The vaquita is being killed by fishermen trying to catch the totoaba fish, which is prized in China
environmentJust 97 of the 'world's cutest' sea mammals remain
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultants

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £Competitive: SThree: SThree Group and have be...

Recruitment Genius: Chief Engineer

£50000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chief Engineer is required to...

Recruitment Genius: Web Marketing Specialist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading Renewable Energy compa...

Ashdown Group: Data Warehouse & Business Intelligence Co-ordinator

£35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Required skills include SQL querying, SSRS, u...

Day In a Page

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?